Clay Shirky: “Not enough women have what it takes to behave like arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks.”By Steffen • Jan 21st, 2010 • Category: 26th Story, Big Ideas
Ladies on the interwebs are buzzing about Clay Shirky’s recent blog post in which he explains, in a nutshell, how women are less likely to adopt a blowhard, fake it till you make it attitude when it comes to their career. A student’s request for a letter of recommendation got Shirky going:
“So I get email from a good former student, applying for a job and asking for a recommendation. “Sure”, I say, “Tell me what you think I should say.” I then get a draft letter back in which the student has described their work and fitness for the job in terms so superlative it would make an Assistant Brand Manager blush.
So I write my letter, looking over the student’s self-assessment and toning it down so that it sounds like it’s coming from a person and not a PR department, and send it off. And then, as I get over my annoyance, I realize that, by overstating their abilities, the student has probably gotten the best letter out of me they could have gotten.
Now, can you guess the gender of the student involved?
Of course you can. My home, the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, is fairly gender-balanced, and I’ve taught about as many women as men over the last decade. In theory, the gender of my former student should be a coin-toss. In practice, I might as well have given him the pseudonym Moustache McMasculine for all the mystery there was. And I’ve grown increasingly worried that most of the women in the department, past or present, simply couldn’t write a letter like that.
This worry isn’t about psychology; I’m not concerned that women don’t engage in enough building of self-confidence or self-esteem. I’m worried about something much simpler: not enough women have what it takes to behave like arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks.”
The reactions to Shirky’s comments were mixed among my friends. One person said “I know a SHITTON of self-aggrandizing blowhards who also happen to be women. Regardless of gender, I always think karma’s at work anyway and if you are ultimately just faking it, it will bite you in the ass in the end when people eventually realize you’re full of shit!”
I am curious to hear what people think. Is there some kind of ultimate karmic justice in the world? Do people agree with Clay Shirky’s take on women?